What is Best for Countertops: Quartz or Granite?

Deciding between quartz and granite countertops can be a difficult choice. Both materials have their own sets of pros and cons to consider when renovating a kitchen or bathroom. This article provides an in-depth comparison between quartz and granite countertops to help you determine which is the best option for your needs.

Key Differences Between Quartz and Granite Countertops

Quartz countertops are engineered stone made from roughly 90% ground natural quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments. Quartz is non-porous, stain-resistant, and durable.

Granite countertops are natural stone mined from quarries. Granite is porous, prone to staining, and must be sealed regularly. But it offers a unique natural stone look.

Here is a quick overview of how quartz and granite compare:

  • Appearance: Granite has a natural stone look with unique veining and patterns. Quartz often mimics the look of natural stone but has more uniform coloring.
  • Durability: Quartz is harder and more scratch resistant than granite. Both can crack under impact.
  • Maintenance: Quartz requires very little maintenance. Granite must be sealed to prevent staining.
  • Cost: Quartz is often more affordable than premium granite. Granite has a wide range of pricing.

Let’s explore each of these factors in more detail.

Appearance: Granite’s Natural Beauty vs. Quartz Consistency

The appearance you prefer may be the deciding factor between quartz and granite.

Granite is a natural stone, so no two slabs are the same. It forms over millions of years in a variety of striking colors and patterns:

  • Whites, creams, grays
  • Reds, browns, tans
  • Blues, greens, black

Granite often has distinctive veining, swirls, and crystals throughout. Many homeowners choose granite for its unique natural beauty and stone-like feel. No two granite countertops will look exactly the same.

Quartz countertops provide more uniformity. During manufacturing, quartz crystals are blended with resins and color pigments to form slabs. Quartz can mimic granite and other natural stone looks, but with less variation between slabs.

The most popular quartz color tones include:

  • Whites, creams, grays
  • Beiges, taupes, browns
  • Blues, grays

The resins allow quartz to have more translucent patterns and speckling. But overall, quartz has less visible variation than natural granite. For some homeowners, the consistent color and patterns are a pro.

So in terms of aesthetics, granite offers true stone beauty, while quartz provides more uniformity. Be sure to view several slabs of each material to see which visual style suits your space.

Durability: Harder Quartz vs. Softer Granite

Quartz countertops are engineered for maximum durability, while granite is a softer natural stone.

Quartz is one of the hardest minerals in nature, measuring 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. During manufacturing, it is combined with durable polymer resins and other materials to form an incredibly hard, non-porous slab.

As a result, quartz countertops are highly scratch resistant and can withstand plenty of wear and tear:

  • Resists scratches from knives, pots, and utensils
  • Does not easily chip from impacts
  • Stands up to harsh cleaners and chemicals

Granite ranks between 6 to 7 on the Mohs scale, so it is slightly softer than quartz. Granite is still very durable for countertops, but is more prone to chipping and scratching than quartz:

  • Can get minor scratches over time
  • Chips may occur from heavy objects dropping
  • Avoid abrasive cleaners that can dull the surface

To increase lifespan, granite should be installed by an experienced professional to minimize seams and cracks. Both quartz and granite can potentially crack under very heavy impact. But overall, quartz offers superior durability and scratch resistance.

Maintenance: More Upkeep for Granite

The required maintenance is another differentiator between these two countertop materials.

Quartz countertops are almost maintenance-free, other than routine cleaning. Since quartz is non-porous, it does not need to be sealed or conditioned over time. Simple cleaning steps for quartz include:

  • Wipe with a soft cloth and mild soap
  • Rinse thoroughly after cleaning
  • No need to seal or polish

Avoid using very abrasive pads or cleaners that could dull the surface over time. But overall, quartz requires minimal maintenance.

Granite countertops are more porous than quartz, so they are prone to staining and must be sealed regularly. Recommended maintenance steps for granite include:

  • Seal granite every 1-2 years
  • Clean spills quickly to prevent stains
  • Use stone-safe cleaners, not abrasive pads

Neglecting to seal granite can lead to permanent stains over time. Be prepared to invest more time into caring for natural stone. For busy homeowners, the ease of quartz may be more appealing.

Cost: Varies Widely by Stone Type

There is no definitive winner when it comes to quartz vs. granite pricing – it depends on the specific materials chosen. Here are some pricing considerations:

  • Quartz pricing: Ranges from $35-100 per square foot installed. More affordable than high-end granite.
  • Granite pricing: Starts around $35 per square foot for more affordable granites, up to $200 per square foot for rare/premium varieties.
  • Factors affecting cost: Color, stone type, thickness, and edge treatments. Fancier edges, greater thickness, and exotic granites raise prices of both materials.

Generally, mid-range quartz is often more economical than mid-range granite. But granite has much wider pricing variation. Be sure to get quotes on the exact slabs and edges you want.

Overall, quartz delivers financial value for money, while premium granites are an investment. But granite can also be affordable, based on type and styling.

Which is Better for Countertops: Quartz vs. Granite?

So should you choose quartz or granite? Here are some final recommendations:

  • Quartz for minimal maintenance: Great for busy homeowners who want countertops that can be easily cleaned without frequent sealing.
  • Granite for natural stone look: Ideal for those who love the aesthetic of unique stone and don’t mind the extra upkeep.
  • Quartz for heavy use: Perfect for kitchens that will undergo a lot of daily cooking and food prep. Holds up to heavy use.
  • Granite for bathrooms: The polished stone surface adds elegance to bathrooms, where there are fewer concerns about staining from food and drinks.

In the end, it comes down to your priorities in terms of appearance, maintenance, budget, and how heavily the space will be used. Both granite and quartz make gorgeous, functional countertops that will enhance your home for many years. Carefully weigh the pros and cons outlined here to decide which material best fits your lifestyle and goals.

Frequently Asked Questions about Quartz vs. Granite Countertops

Here are some common questions homeowners have about choosing between quartz and granite:

Is quartz or granite better?

There is no definitively “better” option. Quartz is harder, lower maintenance, and more affordable on average. But granite offers a gorgeous natural stone look. Best choice depends on your priorities.

Is quartz more expensive than granite?

Generally, mid-range quartz is less expensive than mid-range granite. But high-end premium granites can be more expensive than top-tier quartz options. There is wide variation.

Does quartz stain like granite?

No, quartz is non-porous so it does not easily stain. Granite can absorb stains if not properly sealed. Quartz is the stain-resistant option.

Which material is most durable?

Quartz is harder and more scratch resistant than granite. Both can chip from significant impacts. But quartz performs slightly better in durability tests.

Does quartz need sealing like granite?

No, quartz does not require any sealing, conditioning, or polishing. Granite must be sealed as often as yearly. Quartz is virtually maintenance-free.

Can you tell the difference between quartz and granite?

Yes, granite has a more natural, raw stone appearance with variation in veining. Quartz often looks more uniform. Granite feels more stone-like to the touch.

Which material has more color/pattern options?

Granite has endless variety since it is a natural stone. Quartz has a more limited selection since colors are added during manufacturing, but options are still extensive.

The Bottom Line

Quartz and granite both make excellent kitchen and bathroom countertops that will stand the test of time. Quartz requires less maintenance, offers more durability, and provides cost savings. For a natural stone look at any price point, granite delivers beautiful veining. Carefully weigh the pros and cons before deciding between these two great countertop materials.